Ravenscroft, Alison: Strangeness of the dance

Ravenscroft, Alison

The strangeness of the dance: Kate Grenville, Rohan Wilson, Inga Clendinnen and Kim Scott’, Meanjin, 72, 4, Summer 2013, pp. 64-73

The author discusses three recent Australian novels and the way that they interact very specifically with the history of frontier contact and violence. Kate Grenville’s Sarah Thornhill in particular is examined as a controversial example of a novelist trying to tell history through fiction. However, as the author shows, there are significant problems with Grenville’s representation of history and some interesting solutions to the problem of thinking about Indigenous culture are suggested.

Among the books considered is That Deadman Dance, by Indigenous author, Kim Scott. Ravenscroft contrasts Scott’s work with those of the three white authors. Scott writes in 2007.

Put beside Wilson’s or Grenville’s or Clendinnen’s figurings of Indigeneity, Scott’s protagonists are animated—they live. They are not cut-outs. Nor are they presented as living as whites do, save in shabbier, hungrier circumstances. Scott’s writing figures his Indigenous protagonists in their differences to the colonists, differently sensate and differently desiring, in ways that are deeply strange to non-Indigenous subjects.

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